KERSER – Cursing Kerser

ONE OF SYDNEY’S MOST CONTENTIOUS MCS, CAMPBELLTOWN’S SICKEST, SCOTT ‘KERSER’ BARROW PURVEYS A BRAGGADOCIOUS AND SOMEWHAT REFRESHING BRAND OF REALITY-BASED RHYMES. WITH RIP NICHOLSON HE DISCUSSES HOW HIS MUSIC IS MORE RELATABLE TO THE STREETS THAN THE BARBECUE RAP BEING SPAT OUT OF RADIOS ACROSS AUSTRALIA.

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KERSER interviewed @ 11:00 AEST – Friday 10th January 2014
For Street Press Australia & Rip2Shredz Press

Words by RIP NICHOLSON

[Full Q & A below]

“I don’t really care,” says Barrow. “I don’t think Aussie artists really dig the music so much. They can’t relate to it, but then again I could never relate to their music. I think as far as the hustler side of things I’m still getting my music out there without any airplay. They can’t deny that I’ve hustled the hardest.”

Indeed, without radio play Barrow has relied on his internet reputation to cultivate a love-hate relationship across the homegrown hip hop market. His second album No Rest For The Sickest topped the ARIA Urban charts and his latest, S.C.O.T. (Sickest Cunt Out There) released last October is moving significant units on iTunes.

There is the other side to that coin, stemming from the attention Barrow draws from his craft by ruffling feathers of fellow MCs, most notably those of Melbourne MC 360. That, and Barrow’s indifference to what he calls a barbecue rap style of summer stories and political rhetoric.

“Where I’m from people don’t wanna hear that shit. That’s not making a difference where I’m from,” he stresses. “People over here are struggling and that’s why my shit has kinda blown up because it’s a refreshing sound and something they can actually understand and relate to. I’ve had people that have said to me,‘Oh I don’t like a lot of Aussie hip hop but I love your shit’. So I’m the first to break away from that shit and give these people something they can relate to.”

For those who don’t draw the parallels with the barbecue vibe and geopolitical concerns covered in most domestic rap tracks, Barrow provides an anthem and a voice with which they can relate.

“This street sound is only going to get bigger. I was saying yesterday, there is a whole bunch of kids from south west Sydney, west Sydney who are starting off now and I just think there is a whole movement going to take off with them, this street shit. It will be more accepted in the future, five or ten years down the track. I’m just the first to do it and get on mainstream to show those kids the way to do it and be heard.”

Bringing his reality-rap brand of hip hop to the masses, Barrow is readying himself to hit the Big Day Out circuit for what will be his biggest turn-out yet. “I’ve done festivals but I think Big Day Out is a whole other platform. So I’m really looking forward to this one. We’ll do a big pumped-up set and yeah, at a Kerser show I know people are there to see me but at a festival we take into consideration that people are there to party. We’ll just make sure it’s a real hot set.”

[Full Q & A below]

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Q+A with KERSER

ONE OF SYDNEY’S MOST CONTENTIOUS MCS, CAMPBELLTOWN’S SICKEST, SCOTT ‘KERSER’ BARROW PURVEYS A BRAGGADOCIOUS AND SOMEWHAT REFRESHING BRAND OF REALITY-BASED RHYMES. WITH RIP NICHOLSON HE DISCUSSES HOW HIS MUSIC IS MORE RELATABLE TO THE STREETS THAN THE BARBECUE RAP BEING SPAT OUT OF RADIOS ACROSS AUSTRALIA.

Hey man, what have I caught you in the middle of today?

Nothing much man, aye. Just kickin’ back. It’s boiling here.

Easy one to kick off. Who does Kerser think is the best rapper in the country?

Himself.

Haha dope. That’s what’s up! This is the difference between you and a lot of cats in the scene. Hip-hop has always been the braggadocious art.

Exactly, bro!

You ask a lot of rappers and they’ll say ‘oh yeah, I love the Hilltops or Bliss N Eso.’ Fuck that, be about yourself, man.

I think exactly the same way, man. That’s the way hip-hop has always been, you have to big-up yourself, you know what I mean?

That’s the main point of difference with you in the Australian rap scene. You can’t be so humble. You ask a sprinter who they think will win the race, see if they suggest someone else.

Exactly, that’s the way, I couldn’t have put it better, haha.

Do you think you will ever be considered in any top 5 list of Aussie rappers? Do you care?

I don’t really care to tell you the truth, that’s how I was going to answer that. I don’t think Aussie artists really dig the music so much. They can’t relate to it, but then again I could never relate to their music much either. I think as far as the hustler side of things I’m still getting my music out there without any airplay. They can’t deny that I’ve hustled the hardest out of all of them.

Well you’ve shown that you can do it without the radio. Radio doesn’t matter you’re kicking arse on iTunes without them. Fuck ‘em, you know?

Yeah that’s exactly right bro.

Just watched the ‘Old Matt’ video you and Nebs did. Reminds me of DJ Quik’s ‘Dollars & Sense’ track from way back. Do you know that joint?

No, I haven’t heard of it.

Two rappers from Compton who had beef brought on from a misunderstanding on a mixtape. Quik goes in hard on Eiht in one of the most classic diss tracks in west coast rap. You and 60’s beef reminds me of these two cats. Anyway, at the end of it, what were you looking for on the ground?

It’s actually a go-kart place in Mento which is in Campbelltown and 360 went there with Bliss N Eso and they went go-karting and…

You were looking for his nut, weren’t you?

Mmmm, so we went back and tried to find his testicle for him.

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Brah, school me on something here. I have lived in London for over 6 years and I understand London geezers, or lads. But in Australia, you are considered a lad. What does that mean over here?

When I was younger the older fellas, like, they used to go out thieving, just to survive, and they’d get all the freshest gear and they’d always come back with the really expensive brands of shirts, shoes and whatever. And that’s how it all started. Then it kicked off in a style and everyone’s doin’ it and now if you were a certain polo or Nikes you’re lookin’ suss. Now it’s kinda become fashion now. So this lad term I never put on myself but it’s come about and that’s how people see me now I guess.

What did you think of Kendrick Lamar’s verse on Big Sean’s ‘Control’ ?

Yeah sick, man. I love what he did, man.

The reason I lead with that question is because Kendrick did what you do here. He stirs the pot of hip-hop, keeps the sediment from falling to the bottom, challenges folk and you’re not scared to single yourself apart from other Aussie rappers. Are you just putting your opinions out there or are you specifically trying to stir the whole scene up?

Umm, bit of both to tell you the truth. I don’t wanna sound cliched or anything, I’ve just been writing about what’s going on in my life. At least with Aussie hip-hop there wasn’t anything I could relate with. Talking about BBQs and the summer life you know what I mean. Then when I got further into it I found there were the underground rappers spittin’ that street shit. And I think I’ve attracted a lot of fans that aren’t into much Aussie hip-hop because they can’t relate to it, you know what I mean? I’ve had people that have said to me, ‘oh I don’t like a lot of Aussie hip-hop but I love your shit.’ So i’m the first to break away from that shit and give these people something they can relate to.

I love how you call it BBQ rap, it reminds me of an old Mass MC track “I ain’t coming to ya BBQ mate, no more..” Most rappers come from the suburbs, not much life-taking moments to really rap about, or they go global-political to sound deep in their lyrics but you come at your rap from a personal perspective of life and coming up hard with serious experience in which to draw from. Do you feel your leading a new movement?

I do, definitely bro aye, I think this street sound is only going to get bigger. I was saying yesterday, there is a whole bunch of kids from south west Sydney, west Sydney who are starting off now and I just think there is a whole movement going to take off with them, this street shit. I think it will be more accepted in the future, five or ten years down the track. I’m just the first to do it and get on mainstream to show those kids the way to do it and be heard. Radio won’t touch it, TV won’t touch it , they’re all a bit standoffish. So I think this will be the start of something I will look back at and appreciate when I’m older. And radio will accept it more readily as time goes on.

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Look at the way hip-hop started. Radio wasn’t supporting shit until the ’90s. Artists had to grind their shit on the street level and people bought records through word of mouth out of the trunks of cars. That’s hip-hop in it’s purest form, on that street level vibe.

Exactly, I agree with you 100 per cent bro.

Chuck D of Public Enemy said hip-hop is the CNN of the ghetto. Do you feel it’s your duty to report on the streets of Campbelltown?

Yeah rapping about past experiences and what we’re going through and yeah, that’s a good way to put it. It’s like giving people the news that they wouldn’t hear elsewhere because I think it gets shuddered everywhere else.

A part of Australia kept in the shadows that you can be the voice of.

Yes, completely overshadowed, that’s exactly right.

So if you don’t bring it to light there will be plenty of issues that go unheard in these communities.

Yeah, no-one would report on it and things will just continue the way they are and I’m happy to be the first to bring it to everyone’s attention.

So when you sit down to write is that at the forefront or the driving force for doing what you do?

Definitely man, ti depends on the beat and how i’m feeling that day. I can always switch it up from just talking about street shit. depends on the beat and vibe and the mood I’m in and then I’ll take it from there.

So you’ve got Obese Records working for your distro, have they provided anything other than slanging your new albums?

About a year ago i started a management deal with Obese just before I released No Rest For The Sickest. They’re really good man,  they’re doing the best shit from there end and they can work the music industry that I don’t know too much about. So they handle all the music industry side of everything but when it comes to music that’s all me and Nebs really.

So they don’t interfere with the creative work?

Nah, Pegs is really good on that. Obese let me do my thing because it’s been working for me so far. They just let me go, they trust me and I do the same for them.

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Latest album ‘S.C.O.T. (Sickest Cunts Out There)’ was on some other shit… dope. You and the Nebulizer knocked that shit out the box, man. Happy with how it came out?

Definitely man, my first album, Nebulizer was done when I was 22-23 and it was more pubby and party vibe and with No Rest For The Sickest album I wanted to show people I don’t only put out partying shit, then with this S.C.O.T. album we thought we wanted to try out everything we’ve done so far so we included some party bangers, some street shit and have some classic hip-hop shit and when i listened to the album I thought we did kinda cover every avenue that I’ve done before and put it all in fifteen songs and I think we balanced it pretty well. So the outcome was pretty much how we had pictured it.

How important is Nebs to the whole process of making the album, even outside of producing it?

Very much so man, he’s making the beats while I write and then he’ll mix it and go and get it mastered so he’s very important bro. He helps out heaps and has a massive amount of input on the albums as well.  We see eye to eye because we’re mates as well, you know? So there’s never really any ‘oh nah, I don’t wanna do that,’ we’re always on the same level.

In an interview last year you said you had a few regrets from your first album. Too much drugs and party bullshit and you wanted to think more on what you write. You obviously did on No Rest For The Sickest. 2014, how does Kerser treat writing a rap these days compared to when you were the YouTube kid?

OK, yeah, that’s a good question. I guess back then I wasn’t putting too much thought into the tracks and now I’m thinking, ‘ah shit, kids are listening to this, kids eleven, twelve years old not only 20 and 30 year olds or whatever listening so I’ve gotta start thinking about what I’m saying. On the first shit, I won’t say glorifying, but I was rapping about shit I was taking and I don’t want to give people the impression i’m telling kids to go do drugs.

When you first start out you don’t think that kids are going to be hanging off your every word.

That’s it man, I’m thinking, fucking hell with some of the references and lines I’ve said, i didn’t think people were gonna hear this, (laughs) So I definitely keep that in mind when I’m songwriting now, man. I still stay real I just try to think how people are going to take my words these days.

‘Scot vs Kers’ – is this a track highlighting the identity battle you have? being the person Scott and at the same time the rap impresario, Kers? The Face-Off video style was a dope idea too, bro. Big up to Tycotic.

Pretty much just touched on those situations where you’re battling between personas. When I’m Scott… (laughs) when I’m Scott, when I think about it there’s Kerser which is kinda like my brand and then there’s Scott behind that. They’re the same person but it touches on you know? Some days I feel like Kers, some days I feel like Scott and I thought well it must be Scott versus Kers, you know?

How often do you find yourself in that alter-ego tug of war? And who usually wins?

At the end of the day I’d say Scott because he’s… oh yeah, then… (laughs) I’ll say it’s a draw.

I can see you’re battling with it right now.

I’m a fan of your brother’s work. Rates’ ‘Nightmare’ is a haunting confessional. You guys rap similarly in that regard. Is it therapeutic for you to rap shit off your chest?

Yeah it is man, if you’re going through a heap of shit and you put it to paper and record it and put it out there and get it off your chest it does man, very therapeutic. That’s a good word for it, yep.

In one of your latest tracks, I forget the name, you said you hadn’t spoken to Rates in a few months. We can press on if it’s on a personal tip bro, but I was just wondering what the G-O is between you two?

Rates has moved down to Melbourne to work on his album. I think he just needed a break from everything and start fresh type of thing, you know? As you heard in ‘Nightmare 3’ he went back into rehab last year and um, he’s had a few dramas and I think he just needed a clean start and so as soon as he moved to Melbourne I haven’t spoken to him since.

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Is he older or younger?

He’s older.

Aha! see Wikipedia was right on that then but I read somewhere else where it said he was younger than yourself.

Wikipedia’s wrong on lots of my shit, I read that as well.

Fuck that’d be a trip I can’t imagine reading my own profile on Wikipedia and seeing shit wrong about me.

I know man, I don’t know where they get their stories from aye man.

Your lyrics are so close to the bone, so real for you. Is it hard to keep your past issues separate from Kerser’s public interest?

yeah it can be. Life is just suddenly put in the spotlight. People hear something and run with it from there and yeah it’s hard to juggle but I suppose it comes down to the fact that I’m just being true to myself and what music I put out I put out and I suppose that’s how the public is gonna take it.

It’s weird when complete strangers know a lot about you.

That’s a trip.

Yeah, that still spins me out today, you know?

A lot of local MCs, the BBQ rappers as you call them, wouldn’t really know that feeling because their life is not exposed so freely as yours is in your music. I mean it is to an extent, just not to the lengths of what you put in your music.

As i said earlier a lot of barbecues and politics. Where I’m from people don’t wanna hear about politics and what not. That’s not making a difference where I’m from. People over here are struggling and that’s why my shit has kinda blown up because it’s a refreshing sound and something they can actually understand and relate to. Not typical Aussie shit talking about going to the RSL or whatever, you know? (laughs)

So Big Day Out bro. That’s huge. Will this be your biggest crowd yet?

Yeah I’d say it would be. I’ve done festivals but I think Big Day Out is a whole other platform. So I’m really looking forward to this one.

Anything planned for the big event?

Me and Jay UF got the set down pat now and DJ Lopez on the decks, we’ve just been rehearsing a lot more than we usually would. And the songs lined up for the festival aren’t the same as what I’d do at a Kers show. Some people might not have heard some of my old shit so we’ll just be playing on stuff to get the festival going. We’ll do a big pumped-up set and yeah, at a Kerser show I know people are there to see me but at a festival people we take into consideration that people are there to party. We’ll just make sure it’s a real hot set.

So, as the kids are hanging off every word Kers has to say, Kerser is for the kids. Anything you’d like to say?

Just shout out to everyone supporting my movement and everyone that’s bought my stuff, my merchandise a big thank you, there’s plenty more to come. Me and Nebs are going in hard to record some more shit when the tour wraps up in March. Get the fourth album in four years out and should drop sometime in November.

Keeping it busy bro, that’s the way.

Yeah man, we keep flat out. That’s another thing I wanted to say; there’s plenty more to come.

All the best brother and thanks a lot for your time on this. I’m a supporter of your movement and I’m in your corner should you need anything just hit me up man.

Thanks man, I appreciate that. Hit my management up and get on the door, come backstage after and have a few drinks bro.

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